As you gather for turkey and trimmings or however you mark the Thanksgiving holiday it is a good time to think about some things you are grateful for, even when it comes to your finances.
But, what does being thankful have to do with your money? Well, a lot. Forbes did an article on the 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude. Gratitude improves relationships, physical and psychological health, our self-esteem and, a personal favourite, sleep. Being grateful also reduces aggression and stress. When so many articles are written about what needs to be improved, changed or fixed when it comes to our money, simply being grateful could be one of the most overlooked tools to being content with where we are at, and more importantly, who we are.
If you’re wondering what you could possibly add to your money gratitude list, here are five ideas to get you started.
1. Canada’s social safety net.
Without the safety net there would be a lot of things you’d have to pay for or do without. Health care and education, for examples.
If you work hard it is possible to get a good education in Canada even if your family is low income. You will have student loans but nothing compared to graduates in other countries, the USA being one.
If you’re employed you have employment insurance and Canada Pension Plan (CPP) to be thankful for. World finance magazine put Canada’s CPP on the top 5 most sustainable pension plans in the world.
Canada’s social safety net is not perfect. We pay massively high taxes to sustain it and all levels of government carry very high levels of debt. But, we can have some level of assurance that we’re going to get taken care of if we’re ill and need emergency medical attention.
2. Tax Sheltered Savings with Registered accounts.
All registered accounts help you shelter money from tax. Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) are a great vehicle to save for retirement. Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) are just a decade old and are great for saving for retirement, holidays and a down payment on a house. Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) are great for education savings. Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSPs) help families with members who have a disability to save for the future.
3. Financial Literacy.
Canadians overall financial literacy is high compared to other OECD countries. In a recent OECD International Financial Literacy study, Canada ranked fourth in terms of adult financial knowledge, behaviour and attitudes. When many of us didn’t learn anything about money management in our youth, we can feel grateful that compared to other nations we’re much more knowledgeable than we often give ourselves credit for.
4. Stability of Canadian Banks.
You may be wondering how you can possibly be thankful for banks with the amount of fees you pay and massive profits they make. But, you can be grateful for them because they are stable. The 2008 global financial crisis gave us great proof of that. A decade ago banks around the world were crushed but Canadian banks held on. In part, because they had been more conservative in their lending practices.
A study released called the Natixis Global Retirement Index. It comes out every year and it looks at global security around the world. Canada is in the top 10. Switzerland, Iceland and Norway make up the top three countries. But countries like the USA and the UK rank 16th and 17th in the list. The study is a very detailed look at the retirement landscape and covers items like interest rates and inflation and government indebtedness. Compared to other countries we’re doing very well.
Feeling grateful can depend on part on your circumstances in life, but more than anything else it depends on your mindset about those circumstances. If you look at two people in very similar financial circumstances, you may find one is feeling grateful and the other is not.
One of the best things to do to appreciate what we have is to either research life in other countries or go visit another country. Many many people in Canada and around the world don’t have their basic needs covered. But, if you do that could be what you’re thankful for.
I get it. Nothing is perfect. There is much room for improvement in many areas of our financial lives. I also get that we can’t simply make a list of things we’re thankful for and then rest on our laurels.
It’s a great time of year to take a moment to focus on what we have rather than what we want or don’t have. It’s a great time to pause and remind ourselves that there is a lot to be thankful for.